Feel like you’re missing out because your laptop doesn’t have a touchscreen display? No problem. You can give it one for just $50, and you don’t have to remove a single screw to do it.
Next month at CES, a company called Neonode will be showing off the AirBar to the massive Las Vegas crowd. It’s a simple, slim USB peripheral that attaches to the bezel of a laptop. Once you’ve plugged it in to a USB port AirBar blankets your display with “an invisible light field,” which Neonode refers to as “zForce AIR technology.” It sounds pretty cool, and also a lot like the infrared big-screen add-ons made by Keytec.
AirBar doesn’t require any special software to work its magic. As long as it’s connected to a Windows 7, 8, or 10 machine — or a Chromebook — it’ll just work once it’s been plugged in. Neonode is still working on Mac support, but it’s coming.
One of the coolest things about AirBar is that it doesn’t matter what you touch the screen with. You don’t have to use a special stylus or your fingers — though you can, and even while wearing thick work gloves. Anything that breaks up the light field will do the trick: chopsticks, paint brushes, you name it.
It’s a pretty slick device, and pre-ordering one will only set you back $49. That’s $30 less than a Leap Motion, though there is one major downside to the current AirBar design. You can’t attach it to just any display and turn it into a touchscreen. It only works with 15.6-inch laptops, which really limits its appeal.